Ghost box records uses radical nostalgia to critique the past

What does nostalgia look like for a future that never happened? [[ hauntology ]] and the unheimlich are explored in Ghost Box record label.

Basically, how do you explore the past and evoke nostalgia without glorifying the shittiness of the past?

The chapter quotes a critic (Sexton) who describes [[ the Advisory Circle band ]] and Belbury Poly band as pastiches and says that it’s the framing that allows them to skirt around the issue of nostalgia for a worse past.

Pattie says “In both types of reading, the label essentially undertakes the same cultural task; it creates a virtual version of a past Britain, which manages to escape the lure of the simply nostalgic because its nostalgia isn’t for a lost country, but for a country that was never quite there.”

More from Chapter 21 Stone Tapes-Ghost Box, Nostalgia, and Postwar Britain by David Pattie (bold my own, of course):

 As with all critical terms, hauntology is simultaneously illuminating and restrictive: it does identify key aspects of the label’s music (its atemporality, its evocation of the half-heard and the half-remembered) but at the same time it misrepresents the label somewhat. It suggests that the relation between the music the label produces and the culture from which it derives is between an unstable, uncanny music and a fixed, knowable past. As Reynolds puts it above, the homeland of postwar Britain becomes unheimlich; texts, images, and meanings that are part of an agreed memory reemerge, in a jumbled, uncanny, unsettling virtual version of themselves. It is this, for commentators, that saves the label from the charge of nostalgia; as Sexton has noted, those who first wrote about Ghost Box were profoundly suspicious of the negative or reactionary connotations of the term. Mark Fisher, for example, argued that the label’s music constituted a careful investigation of the process of nostalgia, rather than a directly nostalgic evocation of the recent past. Simon Reynolds saw the label’s releases as a response to popular music’s growing obsession with its own history; against pop culture’s retromania, Ghost Box created music that combined a nostalgia for a future that never came to pass, with a vision of a strange, alternative Britain, constituted from the reordered refuse of the postwar period (“More than a Proust-like quest to recover ‘lost time,’ the Ghost Box project is really an attempt to turn the past into a foreign country,” Reynolds 2006, 33).


Here are all the notes in this garden, along with their links, visualized as a graph.